11/06/2019 — 

PROVIDENCE, RI — The projected $70 million project to rehabilitate the Washington Bridge’s westbound span is getting a major boost thanks to a new $25 million federal BUILD grant, announced today by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline.  The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will receive the federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  This brings the total federal commitment for the project to $56 million.

The Washington Bridge was built in 1969 and carries about 70,000 vehicles per day along Interstate I-195 between Providence and East Providence.  Today, its westbound span is in poor structural condition.  The Washington Bridge Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Project would replace the westbound span of the bridge, adding more capacity and realigning ramps.  The project will bring the bridge into a state of good repair, reduce congestion, and enhance commuter safety.  According to RIDOT, the project offers a long-term solution that can be executed at half the cost of a total rebuild of the bridge.

“Today, I spoke with Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and was informed that Rhode Island will receive this BUILD grant to upgrade the Washington Bridge.  Enhancing Rhode Island’s infrastructure and improving our bridges is a top priority of mine and I am pleased to help secure this federal BUILD grant.  This federal funding will mean the difference between just repairing the bridge for today and fixing it for the decades to come.  It will mean faster and safer commutes, and it will open the door to greater economic development opportunities,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD).

“I was glad to join my delegation colleagues in securing federal funds to make major upgrades to the aging Washington Bridge,” said Senator Whitehouse, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  “These much-needed bridge improvements will make driving between Providence and the East Bay faster and safer, and prepare another major state artery for the twenty-first century economy.” 

“Thousands of Rhode Islanders rely on the Washington Bridge during their daily commutes,” said Congressman Langevin. “I am pleased work is underway to upgrade the Washington Bridge, and I am thrilled to have helped secure $25 million to make these needed repairs and improve commuter safety.”

“Strong federal investments in rebuilding our state’s infrastructure means safer roads and bridges, less traffic, and better access good-paying jobs for all Rhode Islanders,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “This additional $25 million BUILD grant will allow RIDOT to continue their work ensuring that the Washington Bridge is safe and efficient well into the future. As an outspoken advocate for substantially increased funding for the BUILD program, I’m proud to help bring these valuable federal funds home to our state.”

Federal BUILD grants are funded on a competitive basis based on their promise of significant local or regional impact.  Senator Reed, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee, led efforts in Congress to include $1 billion for BUILD grants in fiscal year 2020.  President Trump sought to zero out BUILD grant funding in his 2020 budget.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, projects for BUILD grants were evaluated based on merit criteria, including: safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership, and additional non-federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.